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Lukshen un Kaese Kugel
Ashkenazic Sweet Noodle and Cheese Pudding
4 to 6 servings
Although bread puddings remained popular Sabbath fare until moderm times, inventive cooks devised many variations. During Passover, matzo was substituted for the bread. In the early Middle Ages, Germans began adding honey and sometimes cinnamon, nuts, and fruit to their puddings, and Jews emulated this practice. In the 17th century, when sugar became affordable in Europe, it became a common sweetener in kugels and led to even more variations. By the 16th century, rice kugel, influenced by the Ottoman invasion, had appeared in eastern Europe. However, since rice was expensive, it was generally reserved for special occasions. About this time, cooks also began replacing the bread with lukshen (noodles), producing what arguably became the most popular form of baked pudding, lukshen kugel.
In the dairy-rich Baltics, cheese was commonly added to the kugel. Ashkenazim use only cottage-type or cream cheeses in kugels, however, never hard cheese or the stringy mozzarella-type popular in Italy and the Balkans. There are nearly as many variations of dairy noodle kugel as there are cooks. Whichever variation you prefer, this creamy dish is commonly served at dairy meals such as Shavuot and Hanukkah.
The recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch-square (2-quart) baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Place the noodles in a large bowl, add the butter, and stir until the butter is melted.
3. Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pot or cottage cheese and sour cream or cream cheese. Stir into the noodles. Add the raisins.
4. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the cinnamon. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature as a side dish or dessert.
Custard Noodle Kugel: Increase the number of eggs to 4 and add 3/4 cup milk.
Pareve Sweet Noodle Kugel: Omit the cheese and sour cream and increase number of the eggs to 4 or 5. (Note: The more eggs, the softer the kugel.)
Galician Salt and Pepper Kugel: Omit the cheese, sour cream, and sugar, increase the number of eggs to 3 or 4, and add ground black pepper to taste.
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